Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for the Dyatlov Pass Incident

is for...Dyatlov Pass Incident/Accident

In the winter of 1959, a group set out on a ski-trek into the Ural Mountains, led by Igor Dyatlov. There were ten people in the party, two of them women. Most were students in their twenties, but one man was in his thirties.

One of the members of the party left early due to being sick. He was the only survivor of what was to occur on the night of February 1.

By Group of ski hikers led by Igor Dyatlov
 ("Mysterious Deaths of 9 Skiers Still Unresolved")
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This photo was found on a roll of film in their tent.
That night, the group set up camp on Kholat Syakhl, a mountain six miles from their intended final destination of the mountain Otorten. They were at 3600 feet, and about a mile from a forested area. Many question why they camped on the exposed slope, but the member who left early said it was likely practice for slope camping or in order not to lose a mile's worth of distance claimed.

From journal entries and photos left behind, it is thought they settled here at about 5 PM to set up camp. At about 7 PM it is thought they had dinner. Some settled down for bed afterwards. It's unknown if all did.

At about 10:30 PM, the group burst from their tent, tearing it from the inside out. They fled toward the forest, wearing varying degrees of clothing in the -18 degree weather. Some socks, some bare feet, some one shoe.

None survived.

It's what happened in those final hours that intrigues people all these years later. When they failed to show up, rescue missions were sent out. They did come upon the campsite, finding the tent partially covered in snow, torn in multiple places from the inside out, and footprints leading away from the tent. It has been disputed whether there were 8 sets of footprints or 9, leading experts to wonder if anyone was wounded at the time of exiting the tent.

By Soviet investigators ("Mysterious Deaths of 9 Skiers Still Unresolved")
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
This was the tent as found by rescuers.
The bodies were found scattered, far from the tent, during two different missions. Footprint evidence seems to indicate they scattered at first, then met up near the woods, then scattered again after a time period of being together. Their gathering point was a tall cedar tree a little over a mile from the tent, where two of the bodies were found, as well as evidence they had built a fire. The bodies found here were Georgyi K. and Yuri D. Both were found in socks and underwear only. It appears they had tried to climb the tree, as branches were broken going up a certain distance, and skin and nails were left on the bark of the tree. One man's hands were burned. These two died of hypothermia.

The closest bodies found to the tent appear to have been crawling back toward it from the tree, possibly hoping to retrieve their clothing and shelter in their desperation to defeat the cold. The closest to the tent, Zinaida K., made it 630 meters from the tree in the direction of the tent. The other two, Rustem S. and Igor D., made it 300 and 480 meters before also perishing of hypothermia. Interesting to note is that Igor was found with a branch in one hand and the other protecting his face. He was laying on his back. He sustained no injuries, nor did any of the others who died of hypothermia, save Rustem, who had a minor skull fracture that was not thought to be fatal. The state of undress of these three was not documented, for some reason.

The final four members of the expedition were not discovered until the spring thaw occurred. They were huddled together in a ravine 75 meters into the forest from the cedar tree. These are the only members who were seriously injured, three of them fatally. Nicolas T. suffered a severely crushed skull. Alexander Z. had broken ribs. Lyudmila D. had broken ribs, one of which had punctured her heart, and her tongue had been pulled out by the root, possibly accompanied by part of the lining of her oral cavity. She was lying backward, head pulled back, mouth wide open. Likely the last to die, Alexander K. died of hypothermia, and had no other injuries. Trace radiation was found on Lyudmila's and Alexander's clothing, though some stories reported that they all had high levels of radiation.

The three with fatal injuries had more clothing on than the others, including a fur coat. It is thought they took clothing from their dead counterparts under the tree, but it is unknown whether they just happened to have grabbed those items of clothing in the tent as they ran, or if they were pulled off the others. Some showed cuts that would indicate they were cut off the dead bodies of the others.

The kicker is that even those with severe internal injuries had no external injuries. There was no bruising, no major scratches, nothing. A medical examiner said the force required to cause the head and rib injuries would have been that of a collision with a car. Some relatives reported that their loved ones had grey hair at their funerals, and that they had a deep brown or orange tan.

One of the officials in charge of the investigation came out decades later to say that he was told to close the case, and that all files were stored as Top Secret until recently.

Theories as to what happened are numerous, but each raises further questions:

1. A small avalanche hit the tent and they dug their way out and ran. This might explain the injuries, though at least two of them wouldn't have made it alive to the cedar tree after those injuries were received, let alone into the ravine after the others had already perished. Questions raised by this are why they wouldn't try to pull the tent out to get their clothing and make new shelter, as well as why there wasn't obvious evidence of an avalanche.

2. They feared an avalanche was coming, possibly because they heard rumbling, and ran for their lives. But why wouldn't they have realized in a shorter time that it hadn't happened and gone back to the tent?

3. Yeti/Abominable Snowman. There are tons of reports in the Ural Mountains of Yeti. However, there were no animal tracks found.

4. Mansi Warriors. There were tribal peoples in the region, and it was considered that they may have attacked the trekkers for being on sacred land. However, this area was not considered sacred, none of them had injuries that would be received in a fight, and there were no additional footprints. Plus, the Mansi assisted in the search mission.

5. Strange orange lights were seen that night by others camping nearby, as well as people in a village. Two theories have come from these lights. The first is that they were extraterrestrial in nature. Aliens.

6. The second theory concerning the lights is that the Soviets were conducting military testing of some sort, and that these people had stumbled onto it and been made to pay. Scrap metal was found in the region years later, possibly validating this. But, again, most of the group died of hypothermia and ran from something in fear; they suffered no external injuries. One suggestion is that the testing was on a sonic weapon, which would have put out a sound at such a frequency as to cause panic and paranoia.

7. Hypothermia in the tent caused them to strip and suffer paranoia. One of the symptoms of hypothermia is paradoxical undressing. But then what happened to their injured counterparts? If they were hurt falling into the ravine, why were there no external injuries, and how did they find each other again? I just threw this out there, but I didn't see it in any reports or articles.

8. A curse. There's said to be a Mansi myth that nine of their tribesmen had been killed by supernatural forces in that same spot. This has not been confirmed.

9. I'm curious why no one considered it might be a winged creature...?

The campers saying goodbye to their sick friend the day he left.
By Group of ski hikers led by Igor Dyatlov ("Mysterious Deaths of 9 Skiers Still Unresolved") [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

The questions that need to be answered are: What made them leave the tent in the first place? Why were they at all unclothed in the first place? Why did they not go back to the tent? Why did they separate again? What caused the injuries on those found in the ravine (minus the one)? Why did the government cover up the investigation for several decades?

What theory do you favor? Or can you think of a different reason for all of this?

May you find your Muse.


  1. Wow, how very weird. I was going to go with a Yeti but that doesn't explain the radiation or the orange tan. Very mysterious

  2. Wow, that's incredibly creepy. Can I just say, I absolutely love your theme, I have a thing about unexplained incidents!
    I like your 'winged creature' theory :)

  3. My first thought was that they had eaten something that made them hallucinate and thus act strangely. But then how to explain the injuries. Falling might explain some except for the no bruises but what about the woman whose tongue was pulled out? And if they came across something they shouldn't have and the govt wanted to cover I'd think they would've just killed them all quickly and expediently - no tongue pulling. Definitely a very strange incident! I'll bet the sick guy was some grateful he missed the fun.

  4. Mysteries are so thought provoking. I'll go with space invaders. It's a wild theory for such an odd incident.
    Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

  5. Biochemical testing? This was during the 'cold war' times. No one divulged what they were doing.

    If the bodies had radiation evidence, they may have been in a volatile area from former testing. especially if the intent of a chemical agent is to scramble the minds of the opposition.

    Very interesting, Shannon!

  6. This is a horror movie waiting to happen - if it hasn't already been made into one, that is. And can you imagine what the one lone man, the survivor, must feel? Relief? Guilt? Terror? What if he was meant to die up there, too, and he didn't and... Okay, I'll stop. For now. :)

  7. This is by far my favorite one! I know it's only day D but this is so strange.
    Dani @ Entertaining Interests

  8. Very interesting and a story I hadn't heard before.

    I say call in Mulder and Scully :)

  9. Creepy and very interesting. Now, you have me itching to know more ;)

  10. I like the idea of mysterious evil dark military scientific testing. The whole cold war era is fertile grounds for sci-fi related theories ;).

  11. The aliens did it. Sounds like it to me.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  12. The way the 3 fatally injured people died saddened me.

    I just can't support any theories than aliens, but even they would have left some form of evidence, like they show in the movies...but it is rather spooky!

  13. It is rather strange, I'll pick the cursed land, and the reason they camped there was to test the curse as they didn't believe in it...It's a brilliant story and we may never know the truth of what happened, but wow.

  14. As anyone suggested that it was the "sick" friend. When you have something like this with just one survivor...? Well, I know where I'd start looking.

    And you got me. I've never heard of this one before.

  15. This is an incident I've never heard of. Thanks for posting about it.

  16. That's just bizarre. I think it's probably 6 and/or 7, or some other combination. There was something that terrified them... maybe #7... then some of them got caught in an avalanche and climbed out. hmmm

  17. SO intriguing.
    I can really only wager a guess about the yanked out tongue... I think she stuck it to a tree in the forest and it froze there. Forever. Then she had to yank it off to escape the charging alien yeti who attacked earth in response to a Russian nuke, tested in space that was sabotaged by the Mansi tribe. No. But seriously, how has this not been made into a movie?

  18. wow what a story!
    I don't know where to start.
    enjoying your posts tho!


  19. That gave me goosebumps!!
    Excellent post.
    Connie #133
    Checkin' in from the A to Z Challenge.
    Peanut Butter and Whine

  20. I loved your theme, but now I may be IN love with it! I'd never heard of this event ever and I find it creepy as hell.

    All I could think was how it sounds like a movie. I have no idea what theory sounds most likely.

    Are there any documentaries on it? Or just articles?

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

  21. Oh my stars. I'd never heard of this incident either, and I'm with the guys who want to see the movie. Chemical induced paranoia? But the thing with the tongue . . .

  22. Just stopping by to say... cool theme! I've heard this story about the Ural Mountains before and it is decidedly creepy. I look forward to seeing what else you have in store!

  23. Interesting, I don't think I've ever heard of this particular mystery before. The logical side of my brain says either avalanche or hypothermia, but the myster loving side wants it to be aliens.

  24. I always tell myself I don't believe in the supernatural... and then I read something that makes me hesitate! Cool post, Shannon!

  25. That gave me shivers - I've never heard that story - it sounds like an X-files episode.

  26. Such a creepy story! I can imagine a movie being made of it.

  27. I don't know which theory I'd go for. All I can say is that I feel sad seeing the photo of the smiling friends hours before their tragedy.

  28. Thinking about the possibility of the existence of a winged creature. Heck it's pretty scary.

    Sincerely,Miss Uncertain---sidetracked

  29. Very X Files. Just so you know, I have an alibi.

    Moody Writing

  30. Freaky much? There will never be an explanation. Sad.

    Kinda scarry...


  31. Whoa...So like X-Files!! And many unanswerable questions. We'll probably never know for sure. Good, interesting post, Shannon!

  32. That is a very odd story. I haven't heard it before but I want to do more research now.

  33. It is a scary story and the most mysterious so far. It had to be something that scared the hell out of them since it turned their hair grey. I don't believe in the avalanche as an avalanche would not tear someone's tongue out, nor a fall would. Creepy.

  34. Maple, or the lack of footprints!

    Laura, yay for the winged creature theory! I guess it would have to be radioactive, too?

    Marcy, each new detail just makes it more of a mystery, doesn't it? I'm sure he felt relieved, but terribly guilty.

    Katie, space invaders would explain much of it, wouldn't it? Radiation included.

    D.G., true. The thing that makes the radiation tricky is that only two were reported to have exposure to radiation. The others did not read positive for it. So what were these two doing, or where did they go, that the others didn't?

    Madeline, oh yes, this one has inspired me to want to write a story, moreso than the others (though the bog bodies also had stories moving through my brain). This is an incredible story!

    Dani, it's my favorite, too!

    Mark, I'd love to call them in! Where are the real ones?

    Tonja, yes, creepy indeed. Every aspect.

    Charlie, it certainly is, especially nestled deep in the Ural Mountains.

    Shelly, another vote for aliens!

    Nandana, it all made me sad. Their last hours must have been unimaginable, no matter what did it. And they look so happy in the photos.

    Wicked, I like it, a vote for the curse!

    Andrew, yes! I got you!! I hadn't heard of it, either. The sick friend was picked up by a chopper, I believe, with them waving goodbye, so it couldn't have been him. He could have possibly given them something to make them hallucinate.

    Bob, yay, I'm glad this one was new to people!

  35. Kristen, I feel like it must have been a combination of things. No one thing explains it all.

    David, favorite comment! I wonder the same thing. There are books, but I don't think a film had been made. Astounding, really.

    Auntyamo, thank you, I'm glad you're enjoying them!

    Connie, yay for goosebumps!

    Jak, awesome! There is a Russian documentary that was made in 2000 called The Mystery of Dyatlov Pass. They made a book from this, as well, with interviews and photos.

    Jan, exactly! One thing is explained by one thing, but what about the others?

    Tesla, I think you're the first commenter to have heard of it before!

    Kellie, it's definitely more fun to believe in the less easily explained stories, isn't it?

    Jeremy, fantastic! Always happy to convince a skeptic. ;) Even if just for a moment.

    Samantha, that makes me wonder if X-files ever did anything related to this.

    Trisha, that would be a good movie!

    Cynthia, I agree. There are a bunch of pictures of them on the trip, and they all looked so happy, carefree and innocent. It makes me sad, too.

    Miss Uncertain, it is, isn't it? But if we can believe in water-dinos still being around (Nessie, for instance), why not pterodactyls? What about the Jersey Devil and Mothman?

    Mood, an alibi is a good thing to have.

    Terri, I agree, sad and scary. I'd be afraid to live in the area nowadays.

    Cathrina, thank you! I loved X-Files, btw, and agree this fits the bill.

    Clarissa, there's tons out there, because they're trying to get the Russian government to reopen the case and find the answers.

    Al, definitely! And I'm left to wonder why it wouldn't be obvious there was an avalanche. I mean, you'd think it would be fairly clear-cut. Was there enough snow over top to be an avalanche? Or not??

  36. Fascinating. I ponder if they had eaten some tainted food causing mass halucinations. It is as good/bas as all the other explanations. Stratoz goes AtoZ

  37. Stratoz, I like new theories. Good one.